“The Boar and the Butterfly” skilfully sets up future awesomeness and continues to impress in surprising and satisfying ways.
This Into the Badlands Season 3 Episode 11 recap for the episode titled “The Boar and the Butterfly” contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
The more I watch of Into the Badlands, the more I regret that this is the final season. Some shows need the time to develop, to flesh out their worlds and characters and interlink them in consistently surprising and satisfying ways. If you think back to the first season of AMC’s gonzo martial-arts-and-fantasy mash-up, you scarcely recognize it; almost nothing is as it was, yet the new composition seems to make perfect sense.
“The Boar and the Butterfly” was one of those episodes that seemed designed to reward those fans who have stuck around since the beginning. It reintroduced the fan-favorite font of exposition Ankara (Clare Higgins). Nix (Ella-Rae Smith) made her allegiances to Sunny (Daniel Wu) clear, and M.K. (Aramis Knight) got some well-deserved comeuppance for his pouty bullshit. Tilda (Ally Ioannides) tracked down and brutally shanked up a member of the Chau family. Pilgrim (Babou Ceesay) marched on the monastery with his harbingers.
A lot of this was setting up plenty of chaos for the future. But just as much was welcome catharsis, allowing characters to hash out their differences and the audience to enjoy smug villains getting their just desserts. “The Boar and the Butterfly” of the title makes obvious reference to Bajie (Nick Frost) and the Widow (Emily Beecham), who, at the request of the Master (Chipo Chung), were able to fight their friendship back into existence. A similar alliance was formed between the Widow and Sunny during an excellent fight that was a high point in the show’s entire history.
With so much going on you’d think it’d be easy to get confused. But Into the Badlands has always excelled at developing its world and characters without ever losing sight of moment-to-moment satisfaction, and “The Boar and the Butterfly” proved how well the show knows its audience. We’re close to the finish line now, and as much as it pains me that the story is drawing to a close, perhaps it’s better for such a consistently-improving show to quit while it’s ahead rather running itself into the ground.